It's recently occurred to me that there is another benefit to barefoot/minimalist running and that's the wildlife encounters that I now get to experience.

I live in the UK, so I'm not going to be encountering any "cool" wildlife like lions, tigers, bears and wild dogs, but rather the more timid animals like squirrels, foxes, deer and birds. Whilst timid, these guys shouldn't be snubbed as they tend to hear you long before you see them and they're long gone by the time you get within smelling distance.

Previously when running in shoes, I might catch a glimpse of a one of these animals in the distance and then watch then run off. Now, when running barefoot or in my Vibrams, I find I can get very close before they hear me and get a good look before they dash off. Sometimes the animal doesn't even dash off, but instead stops and watches me like I'm the wild animal - this has happened on numerous occasions with deer.

In fact, it's now quite common for me to get within a few meters of a squirrels before they hear me, and even then they don't bolt like they used to. Most of them move slightly out of my way and then turn and watch my feet just like humans do, and probably with the same thought crossing their mind - Crazy fool!!!

I really enjoy the encounters I now make with the best of Britain's wildlife, and it's all thanks to getting rid of the shoes.